Reopening night of ‘Hadestown’ on Broadway. (Photo: Emilio Madrid)
Broadway’s coming back, one standing ovation at a time. And there have been plenty.
Hadestown, the reigning Tony Award-winning Best New Musical, made history this week when it welcomed back its first audience to Broadway in more than 18 months as the sold-out crowd led ovation after ovation culminating in a raucous curtain call and post-show celebration that spilled out onto West 48th Street where the cast and band took to the fire escape of the Walter Kerr Theatre and led the crowd in a celebratory jam session.
The evening started with an immediate standing ovation as the cast and band took to the stage with Tony Award winner André De Shields making his entrance with slow, confident grace bringing the audience to attention with his opening exclamation “Alright!” which kicks off the song “Road to Hell.”
There was a total of five standing ovations during the performance and when the show ended, the musical’s Tony Award-winning composer Anaïs Mitchell and Tony-winning director Rachel Chavkin took the stage with other members of the creative team who had helped bring the show back to the Kerr.
After the performance, the festivities continued, when the cast and band, joined by Mitchell and Chavkin, came onto the theater’s fire escape and threw red flowers, an icon of the show, to the crowd that had gathered below. The cast and band jammed out to “Way Down Hadestown” and then the show’s music director and vocal arranger Liam Robinson led the crowd in “Lean on Me” the R&B standard written by legendary singer/songwriter Bill Withers.
The cast of Hadestown’s is led by Grammy Award winner Reeve Carney as Orpheus, Tony Award winner André De Shields as Hermes, Tony Award nominee and Outer Critics Circle Award winner Amber Gray as Persephone, Tony Award nominee Tom Hewitt, and two-time Tony Award nominee Eva Noblezada as Eurydice. They are joined by Jewelle Blackman, Jessie Shelton, and Mariand Torres as the Fates. The chorus of Workers is played by Anthony Chatmon II, Afra Hines, Timothy Hughes, John Krause, and Kim Steele. The cast includes swings Malcolm Armwood, Adam Hyndman, Tara Jackson, Yael “YaYa” Reich, T. Oliver Reid, and Khaila Wilcoxon.
The North American tour of Hadestown will kick off with its official opening taking place Friday, October 15, at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center for a three-week engagement and continue to over 30 cities in its first season with more to be announced shortly. Prior to the Kennedy Center run, the tour will have a week-long stop at Greenville, South Carolina’s Peace Center (Tuesday, October 5 – Sunday, October 10).
Following two intertwining love stories — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone — Hadestown invites audiences on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back. Mitchell’s beguiling melodies and Chavkin’s poetic imagination pit industry against nature, doubt against faith, and fear against love. Performed by a vibrant ensemble of actors, dancers, and singers, Hadestown delivers a deeply resonant and defiantly hopeful theatrical experience.
The show originated as Mitchell’s indie theater project that toured Vermont which she then turned into an acclaimed album. With Chavkin, her artistic collaborator, Hadestown has been transformed into a genre-defying new musical that blends modern American folk music with New Orleans-inspired jazz to reimagine a sweeping ancient tale. Welcome to Hadestown, “Broadway’s epic celebration of music, togetherness, and hope.” (Forbes).
Hadestown was the most honored show of the 2018-2019 season. In addition to the show’s eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, it has been honored with four Drama Desk Awards, six Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Broadway Musical, and the Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical. The show is already the highest-grossing musical in the history of the Walter Kerr Theatre.
Hadestown marks the first time in over a decade that a woman has been the solo author of a musical: writing the music, lyrics, and book, and is the fourth time in Broadway history a woman has accomplished this creative feat. It also marks the first time in Broadway history that a show’s female composer and female director both won Tony Awards for their work.
The creative team for Broadway features Tony Award winner Rachel Hauck (set design), four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Krass (costume design), two-time Tony Award winner Bradley King (lighting design), Tony Award winners Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz (sound design), Obie Award® winner and Chita Rivera Award® winner David Neumann (choreography), Liam Robinson (music direction and vocal arrangements), Tony Award winners Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose (arrangements and orchestrations), Ken Cerniglia (dramaturgy), and Stewart/Whitley (casting).
The Grammy Award-winning Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hadestown from Sing It Again Records is available on CD, vinyl, and streaming. The album was released digitally in summer of 2019, and topped Billboard’s Broadway Cast Recording chart, and debuted at #8 on the Top Album chart. The CD edition features a 64-page booklet and a two-disc set, while the triple vinyl edition features a 16-page booklet. Both editions include complete song lyrics and never before seen photos of the Hadestown cast and creative team in the studio, and other exclusive content.
Last fall, Mitchell released Working On A Song: The Lyrics of Hadestown, an illuminating book of lyrics and stories about her more than decade’s long process of building the musical from the ground up. Working On A Song is available from Penguin Random House.